Political Corruption

The US is beginning to see the consequences of having a Failed State or 5 on its border with Mexico as the drug trade problems  spiral out of control. Interestingly, the idea that anything can be bought is the driving force behind the drug terror in Mexico. The same attitude has come lurching on the scene in US politics this last week. The corrosive pay to play attitude of Chicago politics reared it ugly coiffed head with  Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich all but putting the Senate seat of President-elect Obama on an eBay auction block(wiretaps caught the Governor openly talking of how he could get bribes for the seat).

Likewise in the US Senate, a small cotery of Southern Republican Senators showed how effectively the Republicans have devastated their brand – that only the GOP know how to manage and govern well.  Instead of following the principle that  in these dire Economic times, the good of the country takes precedence over local interests these Southern Republican Senators torpedoed the Auto Company Bailout Bill supposedly over the intransigence of the Labor Unions to give enough binding concessions. No matter that the immediate cost to taxpayers is just 2% of what has been given to the Banks that got us into the mess in the first place. No matter that the UAW has already given concessions on benfits, retired workers compensations and hourly wages 9see below). No matter that the US automakers are starting to match  foreign quality (I have bitter proof as my new Honda Fit is a lemon – it can barely reach 2/3 of its promised mileage claims while my neighbours Chrysler easily betters it promised mileage).

So when  a little investigation shows that: a)Labor costs are only 10% of the price of a vehicle; b)the unions have already conceded wages and benefits savings such that the$cost/hour is comparable to foreign auto company wages in the US;  and c)the Republicans may be acting to the benefit of the foreign automakers that abound in their states. The NYTimes raises the issue of the true target of the Republican Senators: Union busting and big benefits to their foreign automakers with the demise and liquidation of Detroit. Of course its not stated by the Republican Senators – but just look who stands to gain mightily if Detroit goes down.

And so in dire times, brass-knuckles partisan politics can be just as corrosive as outright corruption.

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